News / Africa

    South African President Pressured by Corruption Report

    FILE - South Africa's President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town, Feb. 13, 2014.
    FILE - South Africa's President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town, Feb. 13, 2014.
    The corruption allegations surrounding South African President Jacob Zuma have prompted the National Assembly to take action.
     
    And observers say Zuma’s problems may translate into losses by the African National Congress in South Africa’s parliamentary elections in May.

    National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu announced on this month that he is appointing a committee to look into a recent report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
     
    That report said that Zuma “improperly benefited” from the use of state funds to upgrade his private residence, Nkandla. The 12-member parliamentary panel has been given until April 30 to issue its findings.
     
    The Public Protector’s report said the equivalent of $23 million was spent on “security upgrades.”
     
    Among other things, a swimming pool and an enclosure for his cattle were constructed.
     
    “Some of these measures,” the report said, “can be legitimately classified as unlawful, and the acts involved constitute improper conduct and maladministration.”
     
    Former U.S. Ambassador John Campbell, now at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said the pool has become a symbol of the president’s excess.
     
    “The justification for it,” he said, “is that the swimming pool provides a water source that could be used – in other words, you could pump water out of it – to fight a fire. Most South Africans, if the ‘blogosphere’ is any indication, simply don’t buy that as an explanation.”
     
    Campbell’s observation is backed by Gareth Newham, an analyst at the independent research organization Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.
     
    “Various surveys show that at least two thirds of South Africans believe that he benefited unduly in his personal capacity from taxpayer’s money,” he said, adding that these surveys also show that people believe “that the money [spent] was excessive. It wasn’t spent correctly.”
     
    David Lewis, executive director of “Corruption Watch” in Johannesburg, agreed.
     
    “The point is that he is using the presidency of the country for his personal gain,” Lewis said. “And the answer in the Nkandla scandal “is that yes, he does not appreciate the distinction between public resources and his private gain.”
     
    Zuma issued a statement on April 3 saying that he is awaiting the results of a parallel probe by South Africa’s Special Investigating Unit before responding to questions about the expenditures.
     
    Already, a report from an inter-ministerial committee has cleared the South African president of wrongdoing.
     
    But in Newham’s view that report lacks credibility.
     
    “This is an internal report,” Newham said, “an investigation headed by his various ministers who are directly implicated in these unethical and illegal expenditures. And, they cleared themselves, and him.”
     
    The Nkandla controversy isn’t the first for Zuma.
     
    His financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years in prison for bribery in connection of to the South African Navy’s purchase of new ships when Zuma was deputy-president.
     
    Zuma himself was also charged with corruption and relieved of his duties by President Thabo Mbeki.
     
    After rounds of legal maneuvering, the charges against Zuma were dropped in April 2009, clearing the way for him to run for the presidency. Zuma’s future hinges on the outcome of National Assembly elections.
     
    Campbell said a shake-up may be looming ahead.
     
    “At present,” he said, “the ANC has about two thirds of the seats in parliament. If the ANC’s percentage drops below 60 percent, then some commentators think the ANC might remove Zuma as the party leader.”

    Jeffrey Young

    Jeffrey Young is a Senior Analyst in VOA’s Global English TV.  He has spent years covering global strategic issues, corruption, the Middle East, and Africa. During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include video journalism and the “Focus” news analysis unit. He also does journalist training overseas for VOA.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Philemon M from: Malawi
    April 15, 2014 3:53 AM
    No wonder,his conduct in his regime has caused RSA economy to be surpassed by Nigeria.the best thing to do is to step down.

    by: max ajida from: pretoria
    April 14, 2014 10:07 AM
    The only best thing Jacob Corrupt Zuma can do is to step down. But he can't do so because he knows once he steps down will be an easy prey. And those who protect him like Blade Nzimande won't do so. For him to invade jail ,he has to remain in power. He so dull that he publicly said ,"he didn't know what was happening at his own compound thinking people will beleave in him. Nzimande the faithful servant of Zuma is trying to mudy the Public Protector's report by calling it "white lies" . These people were so vocal calling the national to live and practice the legacy of late Nelson Mandela while they were doing the opposite.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora